Len McCluskey has indicated that Unite will work to protect any Labour MPs who vote for a new Brexit deal if they face deselection by party members for doing so.
Unite will support Labour MPs who vote for a new Brexit deal
Leader Len McCluskey says union will back MPs – even on the right if the are faced with deselection
The general secretary of the Unite trade union, and a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, offered to defend MPs to the right of the current party’s socialist ideology.
The remarks from the trade union boss will come ahead of a key speech by Jeremy Corbyn in Salford in which Jeremy Corbyn will appeal to leave voters, saying efforts to stop no deal were about confronting those “hijacking the referendum result”.
Corbyn will warn of the threat of a no-deal exit from the European Union, ahead of parliamentary efforts by Labour and Tory rebels to stop Boris Johnson crashing the UK out of the bloc.
According to the Guardian Jeremy Corbyn will say:
“The battle to stop no deal isn’t a struggle between those who want to leave the EU and those who want continued membership. It’s a battle of the many against the few who are hijacking the referendum result to shift even more power and wealth towards those at the top.”
Labour has made it explicit that it will campaign for another Brexit referendum, including backing remain against any Conservative-backed deal, McCluskey has been one of the key sceptical voices.
Len McCluskey, said MPs should not be targeted if they backed Brexit and he would make his views known if members wanted to deselect them on that basis.
McCluskey said he had believed a cross-party deal could have been struck between the Labour leader and Theresa May, but he now thought enough rebel Labour MPs would vote for a new deal to allow it to pass, if it could be brokered by Johnson.
In an interview with Prospect magazine, McCluskey said many Labour MPs would have voted for May’s deal if they believed it stood a chance of passing. “They weren’t going to break the whip for no reason,” he told the magazine.
Labour MPs are facing so-called trigger ballots this autumn, where members have the opportunity to vote for a full reselection process in their constituencies, which would pit incumbent MPs against alternative candidates.
A number of Labour MPs, including Stephen Kinnock, Sarah Champion and Gareth Snell, have suggested they either regret not voting for May’s deal or could vote for any version of a deal now to avoid both no deal or a second referendum.
McCluskey said Unite would have spoken out to defend any MP who had followed though – even those at the opposite end of the party’s ideological spectrum. “I would have made my views known to our members within that constituency,” he said. “I would have been prepared to publicly say: ‘Well, hang on, if this is why you’re attacking this MP, then in my opinion you’re wrong.’”
McCluskey said he did not believe Johnson would secure a new deal, but said more MPs could back it if he did. “If that happened, I think you’re right, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Kinnock, the Labour MP who coordinates aroundabout 30 MPs in a group called Respect the Result, has previously said he believed there was increasing feeling among many of his colleagues opposed to a second referendum that passing the withdrawal agreement bill was the best option.
McCluskey has previously argued that Labour must be prepared to support a pragmatic Brexit deal, saying it appeared to be impossible to stop no deal and that there was no path to a second referendum. The majority of Labour MPs who are sceptical about a referendum are still likely to back the cross-party efforts to pass a bill this week that would mandate Johnson to seek and extension to Article 50.
Corbyn will convene a special meeting of the shadow cabinet on Monday to lay out the party’s plans, which have been coordinated with senior Conservatives opposed to no deal.
Speaking at an event in Salford on Monday, the Labour leader will say: “We are working with other parties to do everything necessary to pull our country back from the brink.
“Like all progressive change, democracy was won from below, it wasn’t handed down from above. So, when a prime minister who hasn’t won an election and who doesn’t have a majority decrees that parliament will be shut down because he knows his plan for a disastrous no-deal doesn’t have the votes, we say that is an attack on democracy which will be resisted.”
Read more… 10 Labour Heartlands MPs ‘Ready To Back No-Deal Rather Than No Brexit At All